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Strong investor relationships with Dr. Marty Fox


Marty Fox

Dr. Fox is an active early-stage investor and has assisted numerous businesses by providing capital and guidance. He has also founded several successful businesses and has served at the executive and board level for multiple companies. He is a former adjunct instructor at the Eller College of Business of the University of Arizona and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.

Marty was extremely gracious with his time and insights, and here are some of his most important suggestions for entrepreneurs:

  • Don’t take money from someone you don’t have a strong relationship with. To support that, here are three tactics for deepening relationships:
    1. Practice empathy – Similar to how you take the time to deeply understand your customers, you should also take the time to deeply understand your investors. Why are they investing? What’s important to them? What outcomes are they after? Do you have the right chemistry to work together for the next decade?
    2. Give consistently, receive occasionally – When we are consistently giving of ourselves it ensures we’re surrounded by a support network that truly cares and wants to see us be successful. Think about times when others have behaved in this way: How did YOU feel?

      “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?‘” – Brian Tracy, Author

    3. Show and prove you think of others – Simply remembering some small detail or important date can deepen those personal connections between two people. Perhaps an unexpected call or text from you “Hey, I was able to apply that suggestion you made to me last week and will let you know how it goes. Thank you!”. Shifting our lens from being constantly focused inward to being frequently focused outward will do wonders for deepening our relationships.
  • Avoid over-diversification – My recommendation for entrepreneurs is that they get uncomfortably narrow about your first early adopter customer segment. The more specific you can get, the faster you can move. To hear a great entrepreneur working through getting specific, check out the Mentor Me Live episode with Aaron Gopp from Patter.

See you next week!

Mentor Me Live with Mica Kinder


Mica Kinder

Today on Mentor Me Live, we are going to tackle fear. As entrepreneurs, we are constantly facing our fears. The fear of running out of money, fear of hiring the wrong person, fear of customers rejecting us, the fear of our skills not being enough to accomplish our gigantic visions.

A recent HBR research study of 65 entrepreneurs noted that for entrepreneurs, courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to persist in spite of it.

Here are a few tips on how to be a courageous entrepreneur:

  1. Identify the sources of your fear – If you don’t know where your fears are coming from, how can you address them? We must strengthen our self-awareness and dig deep to resolve root cause personal issues holding us back.
  2. Next, we need to break our vision into small and achievable milestones. This allows us to take action, feel a sense of accomplishment, and reduce procrastination.
  3. Utilize Ulysses contracts and time commitments to force forward motion. If you haven’t yet ready Annie Duke’s “Thinking in Bets” go grab a copy. It will change how you make decisions.

Each of us brings our own fears to the table when we found a startup, but as Winston Churchill once said:  

 “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

The power of individuals, of entrepreneurs, and of startups lies in their ability to change, to adapt, and to transform themselves to ultimately accomplish their life-saving vision.

Put your fears aside and get back to work changing the world.

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Insulin Now

The art of startup valuations with Brian Ellerman

Welcome back to investor’s corner,  this week we’re going to talk with Brian Ellerman, angel investor and the founding director of Arizona FORGE.

As both a technology scout and angel investor, Brian brings a very impartial and diplomatic view to help entrepreneurs navigate early-stage investments.

Brian Ellerman

Brian Ellerman is the Founding Director of FORGE . To see his full bio, scroll to the end of this article. 

Lessons about the art of valuations:

  • Listen to and take into consideration expert investor perspectives: Active angels are seeing 100 or more presentations a month, and as a result, they know what valuations are normal, expected, and reasonable.
  • Ensure you are able to explain your valuation:   Being able to back up the value of the company with evidence will be extremely important, especially if you are outside the realm of normal, expected, or reasonable valuations.
  • There needs to be room for growth: As Brian said, smart investors know not to eat the whole apple. If an investor takes half of the company, what’s left for the entrepreneur?    “The best investors have a very open dialog with founders about a fair valuation and reasonable sized portion”.   Ensure that as you’re putting together your valuation and offer you leave room for growth.

Brian Ellerman’s Bio

Finding Opportunities and Resources to Grow Entrepreneurs (FORGE)
• Inspire and cultivate entrepreneurial thinking (FORGE’d at UA)
• Advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem (FORGE at Roy Place)
• Drive scale-up/launch acceleration (FORGE Ahead)

Angel investor (https://angel.co/brian-ellerman?public_profile=1) in 100+ and advisor for dozens of startups globally. Member of international Together. Health Steering Committee. Serve on various advisory boards, and founded the Tucson STEM Community.

Studied biology, chemistry, and mathematics at Wabash College, earned a BS cum laude in clinical pathology at Marist College, an MS in Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, Master of Legal Studies (ongoing) at University of Arizona’s Rogers College of Law, and studies toward a PhD in Organization and Management with a Specialization in Leadership at Capella University. Native Arizonan.

Episode Mentions:

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Driving Diversity and Inclusion in Entrepreneurship w/Joann MacMaster CEO of Desert Angels


Joann MacMaster

We have an extremely exciting show today with CEO of the Desert Angels, Joann MacMaster. Joann has served as a startup founder, mentor, investor, and educator. She’s passionate about regional ecosystem development and recently received the Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson Lasting Community Builder Award and this year the 2020 Women of Influence Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

The key lessons for entrepreneurs here are:

  1. Diversity in entrepreneurship is critical because the people and cultures of customer-bases are very different, so the problem-solvers must also be very different in order to understand the challenges people face around the world.
  2. Diversity goes far beyond gender and skin color. There is diversity of backgrounds, skillsets, thought, age, geographic location, experiences, etc. So don’t just think that diversity and inclusion means women and people of color. It’s much deeper than that.
  3. It is unfair to bucket all minority groups into the same category. Women in tech have unique needs and interests different from women of color. Is there overlap? Sure. But to bucket all women into the same category for programs and resources misses the mark. The same goes for all other under-represented groups. Get specific about who is under-represented and develop a strategy to engage them.
  4. As a founder, be sure not to think about Desert Angels as a single entity – many different individual investors and affiliates. Go engage, and learn about the members individually to move your startup forward more rapidly.

Good luck and see you next week!

Connect with Joann MacMaster here:


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Janelle Briggs: Revolutionizing Real Estate, Tucson Startup Ecosystem, Raising $5 Million

Listen to Janelle talk about revolutionary new real estate innovation, how to start a company in Tucson, and fundraising in Tucson.

Make your own new normal, don’t wait for others to make it for you

In March and April of 2020, I heard directly from numerous small business owners and understand that the challenges created by COVID-19 are overwhelming. Many described feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed, which has led to inaction and an inability to pivot or make thoughtful plans or decisions. This is such a normal place to be during this unprecedented time and we wanted to help, by offering support to let you know that you are not alone, your feelings are normal and there is a way to start down the path toward action.

On Wednesday, April 22, I led two interactive sessions with local business leaders and experts to discuss ways to begin to re-imagine your business during this unprecedented time.

Unfortunately, as a small business owner, there is a crisis to lead through every few years. While this COVID-19 crisis is different from anything any of us has led through previously, there are core principles that are consistent to be able to make your own new normal, instead of waiting for others to make it for you:

Get tough: to get through tough times, business owners need to get tough as well. Set aside your guilt to be able to focus on yourself and your business.

Disconnect: Take the time to figure out what’s best for you and focus on that. Turn off the phone, turn off the computer, pause.

Create a plan: Even though these are uncertain times, business leaders must establish some level of certainty for our employees and customers. It’s critical for them to see that you’ve got a plan, even if it ends up being wrong.

Greg Teesdale

Greg Teesdale

About Greg Teesdale

Guidance to small, emerging companies in the development of their business strategies, detailed business plans, and business processes.

Specialties: 30+ years at venture-backed emerging growth companies with 20+ years at the C-level.

Lea Marquez-Peterson

Lea Marquez-Peterson

Commissioner Márquez Peterson has been an entrepreneur in our community for many years and served as the President/ CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber from 2009 until November of 2018. The Tucson Hispanic Chamber serves the business community in the bilingual, bi-cultural region of the Arizona-Sonora border and was recognized as the Hispanic Chamber of the Year in 2013 by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The chamber represents over 1800-member businesses and in partnership with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of the largest chambers in the State of Arizona.

Lea ran for Congress in Arizona Congressional District 2 in 2018 and won a competitive primary race. During her campaign she was endorsed by Governor Ducey, Senator Kyl, Lea enjoyed meeting thousands of people in the region and tackling many key issues impacting Arizona.

She previously served as the Executive Director for Greater Tucson Leadership (GTL) from 2005 to 2009 and owned and operated a Business Brokerage Firm from 2005 to 2009 and a chain of six gasoline stations/convenience stores with 50 employees from 1998 to 2005 in the Tucson region.

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Connect with Lea Marquez-Peterson here:


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